Sleep apnea - a disorder in which an individual's breathing starts and stops, up to several hundred times per night while sleeping. This interruption in an individual's breathing pattern can be caused by a partial or complete obstruction in the air passage. During interrupted breathing patterns, blood pressure rises, while blood oxygen levels fall. These changes can create a significant strain on the heart, with long-term effects.
A majority of those suffering with sleep apnea are unaware that they have the condition. Many times, a person's bed partner notices the symptoms first. This can include loud snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, and excessive movement. Another sign of sleep apnea is excessive day-time drowsiness. Individuals suffering from sleep apnea may experience mood swings, morning headaches, forgetfulness, and chronic fatigue.
Typically affects men who are over the age of 40, who are overweight, and who snore. However, sleep apnea can affect slender individuals, as well as women and children.
Sleep apnea can be effectively treated once it has been diagnosed. Most individuals prefer a non-surgical approach to correct sleep apnea. These may include alterations in sleep habits and body positioning. Other treatments include: weight loss and use of mechanical devices, which assist in maintaining open breathing passages during sleep.